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UN Condemns Use Of Violence To Disrupt Afghanistan Vote

FILE: Employees of the Independent Election Commission registers a voter at a registration center in Kabul in June.
FILE: Employees of the Independent Election Commission registers a voter at a registration center in Kabul in June.

The UN Security Council has unanimously condemned the use of violence by the Taliban and the Islamic State (IS) group to disrupt Afghanistan's elections.

The Council, in a statement issued a day after 23 people were killed in a suicide bombing in Kabul on July 22, said it "condemns in the strongest terms those who resort to violence to obstruct the electoral process, including the Taliban and ISlL (Da'esh) affiliates," it said, referring to IS by its alternate and Arabic acronyms.

It hailed the "exceptional courage displayed by the Afghan National Defense and Security Forces in their leading role in securing their country."

The July 22 bombing near the Kabul International Airport was claimed by the IS group. It followed the return from exile of Afghan Vice President Abdul Rashid Dostum.

The UN Assistance Mission in Afghanistan says the first half of 2018 was the deadliest yet with 1,700 civilians killed.

More than half of those victims were killed in attacks attributed to the IS.

Some 8.9 million Afghans, including more than three million women, are registered to vote in parliamentary and local elections on October 20 and presidential elections in 2019.

The Council statement highlighted "the importance of developing sustainable democratic institutions in Afghanistan based on inclusive, transparent and credible elections."

It also noted "the need to promote the full and safe participation of women as well as members of minority groups, including ethnic, religious and linguistic minorities, both as voters and candidates."

Dostum, a powerful former warlord turned politician, narrowly escaped the attack as he returned home from Turkey.

Officials said he had left the airport in a motorcade only minutes before the blast struck at the entrance of the airport, where hundreds of his supporters had gathered to welcome him.

Interior Ministry spokesman Najib Danish said the explosion was "caused by a suicide attacker on foot."

Dostum returned to Kabul after more than a year in self-imposed exile in Turkey amid claims that he had ordered his men to abduct, beat, and rape a political rival last year.

Dostum is a controversial figure who has been accused of serious human rights violations, including the deaths of hundreds of Taliban prisoners in 2001 in the custody of his militia forces.

With reporting by RFE/RL's Afghan Service, AP, and AFP